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The ERA and teacher identity: reconstructing professionals

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The ERA and teacher
identity: reconstructing
professionals
Zeta Brown
My doctoral studies
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Research title: Teachers’ positions of the inclusion and
standards agendas and how they are practically implemented
in tandem.
Research questions: (1) What are teachers’ positions on the
inclusive education agenda?
a) to what extent do they align with their personal or
professional views?
(2) What are teachers’ positions on the education standards
agenda?
a) to what extent do they align with their personal or
professional views?
(3) How do teachers manage these agendas simultaneously?
The standards agenda
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The Conservative government became re-elected in
1972, with Margaret Thatcher as prime minister.
A clear right-wing hegemonic approach- Thatcherism
replaced Labour’s socialist perspective.
The Conservative party heavily campaigned that the
education system was failing and determined that
education should be geared more closely to the
economy.
The Education Reform Act (1980) was the first piece
of legislation, decentralised power from LEA’s and
turned the education system into a marketable
commodity.
The Education Reform Act (1988)
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Public distrust in the role of teachers focused on their
ability to adequately educate the children in their
care.
There became a national expectancy that the
Government would take control and provide
accountability.
The Conservative government decentralised teachers
by stripping them from their professional status.
The Conservative Government became responsible
for the standards in schools and developed a national
curriculum that provided a prescribed set of subjects
to be taught with a high level of surveillance.
Following the Education Reform Act
(1988)
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The Conservative market-led education system
could only operate if parents knew if their
local schools were succeeding or failing.
The Government’s initiatives were twofold:
(1) Inspection of schools – OfSTED
(2) Assessment process of all schools –
Statutory Assessment Test’s for each key stage
and a national league table.
Teacher identity
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Teacher identity is seen as a historically contested
issue, which changes according to the historical needs
of that era (Webb et al., 2004).
Understandably, this has meant that teachers have had
to continually reinvent not only their identity, but also
the role they have as teachers.
With the implementation of the standards agenda
teacher professionalism became an enacted discourse;
a mechanism for political control.
The Education Reforms influence on
teacher identity
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Proponents of the Education Reform saw the change
of teacher identity as allowing an �authentic’ teacher
to emerge.
Teacher identity changed from the �autonomous’
teacher, who was given responsibility and
professional autonomy to make decisions in their
classroom.
A new �commercialised’ teacher identity was
developed where teachers were seen as professionals
if they achieved the standardised set criteria and they
contributed towards the schools accountable
achievements.
Teachers required to earn their professional status by
conforming to the standards agenda.
Q-Methodology
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Q-methodology provides an in-depth study that investigates
the complexity of differing participants’ positions on a given
subject, where differences of opinion are expected.
Originally developed in the 1930’s by William Stephenson
(1953) the Q-method was initially established for use in
psychological, political and sociological research, which
concentrates on developing a theory of the self in a measurable
form.
Using a mixed method approach, combining quantitative data
in the form of factor analysis, with qualitative data in the Q
data and by complimenting Q with subsequent data collection
methods.
Q-statements are placed on a reversed quasi-normal
distribution grid.
Initial Q analysis
My initial data collection was gaining my Q data.
пЃ® I went into six primary schools, two schools from
high socioeconomic location, two from less affluent
areas, one Catholic and one Church of England
school
In total I had 26 participants that correctly completed
the Q process
I had 48 statements each that couldn’t be readily
identified to either the inclusion or standards agenda.
I asked two conditions of instruction on the same Qset, one based on the inclusion agenda and one based
on the standards agenda
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Q-analysis
The standards agenda had two factors
* Factor one: �I have to conform to the standards
agenda, even if I personally disagree with it’.
Eigenvalue: 8.8882. Teachers included:
3,4,5,6,7,8,12,13,14,15,18,20 (21),21 (22) ,23 (24).
* Factor two: �I do not agree with the standards agenda,
but I feel that there is flexibility within it’
Eigenvalue: 1.8504. Teachers included: 1 2 9 10 11
16 17 19 22(23), 24 (25), 25 (26)
My initial analysis of my semistructured interview
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I presented the factors to 16 of the original participants and asked them
which factors best represented their position. There appeared to be a clear
divide in how teachers’ collectively associated their positions to the factor
statements and the inclusion and standards agendas. This division seemed
to be associated to Rotter’s (1966) locus of control.
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Personal position - Professional position - Constraints within the agendas
Internal locus of control: participants 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26.
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Agendas - Professional - Guidelines (that can be personally implemented
as they see fit)
External locus of control: participants 1, 2, 6, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 25.
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From the semi-structured interviews this divide amongst the teachers
appeared to be separate to the factors of the Q, which highlighted whether
they believed they were constrained by the agenda or whether they felt
there is flexibility within the objectives.
Analysis continued
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I then looked at this data in relation to the years each
teachers had taught.
Each teacher with an internal locus of control: Pre-Ed
Reform - except for one male, who believed solely in
his personal position and ignored any legislative
objectives he disagreed with.
Each teacher with an external locus of control: Post
Ed-Reform - except for one Pre-Ed Reform who took
8 years out of the profession and returned post the Ed
Reform.
What does this tell me?
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Two theories: (1) Is this a psychological process these post-ed
reform teachers use to negotiate the guidelines?
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(2) Is the Education Reform Act influencing the type of person
that now applies to become a teacher? Is the profession now
attracting people with an external locus of control who
performs to guidelines?
Will the teaching profession eventually consist of those with
�commercialised’ identities and external locus’s of control?
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My third phase in-depth semi-structured interviews are at
present continuing the same pattern. Additionally, my
inclusion agenda data represents the same pattern.
Thank you for your time
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